2018 Grant Award: Alisa Vasquez

Competing at Miss Pennsylvania this summer was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. Two years ago I knew that I wanted to be Miss America, and it almost scared me to death. I didn’t think that I had the intelligence or grace to compete against such a prestigious group of young women, but I knew that I could not allow self-doubt to stop me from chasing my dream. From that day forward I made a decision to go on a self-love journey. Each day I prayed, meditated, and journaled, and asked God to help me love myself the way He loves me. Throughout this time of reflection, I realized how much hurt and baggage I had been carrying around for years. I had allowed what other people said to define me, and I lost sight of my worth in the process. So blessed to be able to say that I re-claimed my identity, and actually love and value the woman that I see in the mirror, and while winning the title of Miss Pennsylvania would have been amazing, the journey to the competition is what helped me grow as an individual. In pageantry it can be so easy to place your worth in a crown, but as competitors we have to know that our worth far exceeds a sash and a sparkly hat. It’s the process that matters. When you decide to compete in the Miss America Organization, you are going to push yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. It takes a village of people to compete, and the process is extremely draining at times. There were a number of days that I wanted to just throw in the towel and quit, but I knew that I had to keep pushing. On those days where I would compare myself to the other contestants, I had to remember that I wasn’t trying to be “the best” but “my best.” Prior to competing I thought that I had to outshine the other girls, when I really had to be the best Alisa that I could be.

In regards to my future with pageantry I have decided to finish my year as Miss Central Pennsylvania and take a break from the Miss America Organization. However, even though I am not competing, I will continue to push myself as a leader, woman, and student, because stagnation is not an option.